Anti-Semitism at Northwestern University

President Morton Schapiro
Northwestern University
633 Clark Street
Evanston, IL  60208-1100
 
Dear President Schapiro,
 
We are 23 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people who are very concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at Northwestern University. 
 
We are troubled by reports of two separate incidents of antisemitic graffiti discovered last week on your campus.  On Saturday April 11, a swastika was drawn on a wall of the men’s bathroom in the NU library, and on Wednesday April 15, a large swastika was found on the wall of a study lounge in the library.
 
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We are aware that on Tuesday April 14 you sent an email to the campus community stating that the April 11 incident was “offensive to the entire Northwestern community and will not be tolerated.”  While we are pleased that you issued a statement, we are concerned that your message neglected to publicly acknowledge that a swastika is an antisemitic symbol associated with genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people, and that although it affects the entire campus community, it  particularly targets NU’s Jewish members for hatred and discrimination.
 
Campus antisemitism is a serious and growing problem.  A recent study published by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law reveals that 54% of Jewish American college and university students report experiencing or witnessing antisemitism on campus in the recent school year.  The research reveals that this is a much more widespread problem than most realized.  
 

3 New LDB Chapters Open in the Windy City

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law’s (LDB) Law Student Chapter Initiative, started last year, continues to expand! Last week, LDB opened three new law student chapters in Chicago – at the University of Chicago, DePaul University, and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“The recent rise in anti-Semitism on university campuses is undeniable and deeply disturbing,” says Josh Hammer, a second-year student at the University of Chicago and one of the new chapter’s founding members. “Vigorously combatting this pernicious trend is one of our generation’s great new challenges. It is my hope that our Louis D. Brandeis Center chapter at the University of Chicago Law School will help train our future lawyers in how to do precisely that.”

Fostering a new generation of leaders who share LDB’s mission, LDB chapters fill an important gap in American legal education, offer legal and educational opportunities that members seek, and provide a resource to other members of the university community. In turn, the chapters support LDB’s work to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college and university campuses. Brandeis Center law students assist Brandeis Center attorneys in monitoring colleges and universities around the United States to ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws that protect Jewish students from discrimination, harassment, and hostile environments. Since LDB is an equal opportunity organization, we welcome students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, gender or disability.

Corey Celt, a first-year law student who will be clerking with the Brandeis Center in Washington, D.C. this summer, started the new chapter at DePaul after attending the LDB National Law Student Conference this past December. Celt expressed his excitement about starting the new chapter: “I truly believe that many people are not aware of the Anti-Semitism that takes place on college campuses; if they are, they may also not be aware that there are legal remedies and legal organizations here to help. Given that DePaul University is very active in public interest law and pro bono community service, I know we have a student body that embraces the missions of the Brandeis Center and believes that ‘Human Rights for the Jewish People and justice for all’ are causes worth working for.”

Chicago-Kent LDB Chapter President Paul Geske, also an LDB National Conference participant and founding member, says, “[t]he new chapter will help us empower our fellow law students by providing them with information and the tools to engage in Jewish, civil rights advocacy. The chapter will also be a springboard for connecting students with attorneys locally, and nationwide.” At Chicago-Kent, where students are particularly interested in legal practice, students were treated to a special presentation by Supreme Court litigator Alyza Lewin, who spoke about her experience litigating the “Jerusalem Passport” case. Alyza was introduced by Constitutional Law Professor Mark D. Rosen, who put the case into the context of Con Law, making it increasingly relevant for students.

LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus commented, “We are thrilled to recognize three new Chicago law school chapters this week. These are smart, passionate, dedicated students who share our mission to advance the civil and human rights of the Jewish people and promote justice for all. I admire their commitment and look forward to supporting their efforts.”

The three new LDB Chicago chapters will join the chapter started in February at Loyola University-Chicago. We thank Chicago’s Decalogue Society of Lawyers for connecting us to such wonderful and passionate Chicago-area students, and hope that our two groups can continue to work together.

If you are interested in helping to organize an LDB law student chapter at your school, please contact me at avogelst@brandeiscenter.com.
The Brandeis Center is an independent, non-profit civil rights organization that combats campus anti-Semitism. For more information on Brandeis Center activity, visit our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, read our Blog, and sign-up for our monthly publication, the Brandeis Brief!

BDS in Paris

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The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement is not only growing on American college campuses, but also at European universities. This is unsurprising, as anti-Semitism has been skyrocketing in Europe in recent years, and where there is anti-Semitism, BDS supporters often emerge. I am a Jewish French student, currently studying abroad in the U.S. for the year. At my university in Paris, Sciences Po Paris, a top political science school, BDS France supporters almost succeeded in calling off a conference at the beginning of the month, titled, “To be a Woman in Israel.”
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The conference, scheduled for April 1, was organized by, “Paris Tel-Aviv,” a multi-denominational French-Israeli student association, with a mission of discovering Israeli culture and History. The conference was supposed to feature four women covering four inter-related aspects of women’s lives in Israel: the everyday life, the mandatory military service, the labor market, and Judaism; show an Israeli-French film: Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem (2014); and hold a discussion on women’s place in the Israeli society. The conference was apolitical and had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BDS France denounced the conference, claiming that the representatives of the “Israel Apartheid State” were invited to the conference “under the guise of . . .  women’s rights,” but that all events organized by Paris Tel-Aviv are aimed “to normalize the criminal policy of the State of Israel.” If the conference was not to be cancelled, BDS called for demonstrations in front of the school. The conference, scheduled at the same time as former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was speaking at the school, was first adjourned and then cancelled by university administrators nervous about security issues.

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This is part of the BDS strategy, to demonize Israel and everything that is relative to it. On their French website, BDS implies that the speakers are responsible for the “killings of Palestinian civilians” and actively participate in the “colonization.”

Fortunately, following this whole debacle, Noemie Ifrah, Sciences Po Paris student and President of Paris Tel-Aviv succeeded in reinstating the conference, and obtained high security for the event. “The definitive cancelation of the conference would have been a decisive victory for BDS and a great defeat for the freedom of expression,” explained Noemie; a freedom of expression that is threatened in Paris since the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel

Recently, two House members have introduced legislation to prevent companies associated with the BDS movement from gaining U.S. government contracts. The “Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act” is headed by Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) and Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) to “thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies, and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and…

Israeli Diplomat on BDS

In an article in the Stanford Political Journal, Israel’s former deputy ambassador to Norway explains that the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) campaigns are not about criticizing Israel but demonizing and dehumanizing it. While there are important political issues to discuss, BDS instead abuses the human rights discourse by using a simplistic “good v. evil” narrative that is not…

Call for Papers: “Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization”

We are pleased to share this Call for Papers received from Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University, an esteemed member of the Louis D. Brandeis Center’s Academic Advisory Committee:

Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism

 Indiana University

Announces

Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Dynamics of Delegitimization:

An International Scholars’ Conference

April 2-5, 2016

Call for Papers

This conference will aim to explore the thinking that informs contemporary anti-Zionism and to clarify the ties such thinking may have with antisemitism and broader ideological, political, and cultural currents of thought.

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, recently declared that “anti-Zionism is an invitation to antisemitism.” The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, concurs, stating that anti-Zionism is “the face of the new antisemitism. It targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation.”

Are they right? What are the possible links between anti-Zionism and antisemitism? When does criticism of Israel cease to be a part of legitimate or acceptable discourse and become a form of antisemitism?  These have been much discussed questions, but recent events have given them a new urgency, and examining them today seems both timely and necessary.